WHAT MAKES A COMPASSIONATE CITY?
by Al Klein
There was once a village led by a wise man. He was wise in commerce, but more importantly compassion. He also never really considered himself a governing leader, but only to help anyone to become their true Self. Although he had command of many, he realized that for his village to thrive, everyone deserved an opportunity to realize their own gifts… to reveal their own passion … to flourish within their own journey however they chose. And so the question he toiled with was “how do you change a village to become compassionate?”
At nights, he’d ask Lady Compassion for wisdom and each day she would unveil an opportunity to reveal his authentic Self. Before he would sleep, he would beg of Lady Compassion ‘how can I serve you more?’ Sometimes her answer would come in a dream, or a shower thought but often little clues along his path each day daring him to follow her. He learned to listen closely and follow her lead. He knew that to change a village would not be simple or speedy, but needed to be nurtured as a farmer nurtures the soil. He knew to change a village it meant to talk to many people one cup of coffee at a time.
Often people would ask, “What is my path? How can I copy yours? Why can’t you just give me your plan?” and he’d respond “all the answers lie within yourself and all I can do is listen to your story and ask ‘how can I help?” His gift was his ability to talk with anyone, remember all the faces, and to encourage them to reveal their true Self. He understood that true power lies in community while Lady Compassion secretly whispers the wisdom of Ubuntu to us all: I am because we are.
Other leaders in the community demanded “we must measure it if we hope to manage it”. He asked Lady Compassion about this. She answered “Do not refuse their concern, rather honor it with an understanding that I can never be measured nor managed. I am for everyone, in their terms, within their own journey. I am at the center of all faiths since the beginning of time.”
To honor these demands, some performed surveys; some looked at statistics like crime, church attendance, health and even political diversity. They even imagined new ideas like water crystals, people smiling and traffic but in his heart of hearts he knew that the measurement of compassion was an indescribable energy of connectedness and hope. He insisted it was more important to do the work and let the measurements reveal themselves in time and be sublimely patient.
He also created some key village events to help compassion. One was a Festival of Faiths to listen to wisdom. Another was an Idea Festival where anyone can dream of an idea and be given an opportunity to tell their story. Another was a week of community service of which hundreds of thousands would join.
Soon others discovered the village and those in community shared their wisdom best they could. Each day more and more would discover their path and discover the light of sharing compassion, solutions and tell stories of their journey.
And so it goes….
- Each day is a new adventure.
- Each day is hope in the wake of tragedy.
- Each day the village realizes more deeply the African wisdom of Ubuntu: I am because we are.
- Each day Lady Compassion reveals herself a bit more whispering to us all “we will all become one, because we are one”.
~Al Klein contributes to Compassionate Louisville, Interfaith Paths to Peace and St. William Catholic Church in Louisville KY and lives in Southern Indiana. He works for a major healthcare company and works to change their culture toward compassion through mindfulness and meditation.
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